Friday, June 27, 2014

Physical Therapy - Week 8

This week was a big week.
I mean, sort of.
Basically what happened is that I "graduated" from two of the exercises I'd been doing - the hip dips and straight leg raises - and moved on to a more advanced version of another. Stephanie also added one new exercise to the mix.
So, hooray! Progress!
Despite my strong desire for some sort of massage instead, the Astym® is still going strong. The bruising isn't nearly as massive as when we started, but the sensation of my muscles crunching is still present, and there are definitely some areas that are tender by the end of that part of therapy. Those areas have never been so grateful to see a foam roller.

The instruments of torture; Stephanie uses the one in the middle on me.
Even though one exercise (which I cannot figure out how to do at home yet) was added, so I really only have one less to do, I felt like yesterday's session went faster. It's been taking me at least an hour and a half to go through all the exercises. But since my arse is feeling stronger, I've been working really hard to stick with it on a daily basis (I may or may not have promised myself a little piece of jewelry if I go a full week without skipping a day…) so that I can hear those four magical words: "You can run again."
On the home front, Husband surprised me by initiating a conversation about where I was headed. I guess maybe I've been down in the dumps a bit more than I'd realized, as he suggested that we start looking into an elliptical, "so you can do some cardio even if you're restricted from running as much as you used to."
To be honest, my feelings were kind of hurt at first. After all, the whole point of physical therapy is to get me running - and cycling - again. So to have him suggest the elliptical, a machine that neither of us really like, just so I can do aerobic training with less of an impact on my delicate hip, was….startling.
But I saw his point and also understand that he doesn't see the progress I'm making (neither do I, to be honest), and I appreciated the suggestion for that, since we had discussed a treadmill at some point, and he'd shot it down, saying we don't really have the room. We still don't, so making that suggestion so that I can move again was a big deal for him.
I really really really really really the the elliptical, though. I don't know that I'd use one at home, even if we invested in one. I do think I'd be more inclined to use a treadmill.
So I asked Stephanie about it, and she said that I'd get more use out of the treadmill, not just because I'm more inclined to use it, but also because I can work a greater range of muscles on it. On the elliptical, I can go forward or backward, and I can go fast or slow, but basically, I'm repeating the same motion. On the treadmill, I can incline - and on some, decline - as well as walk sideways and backwards. Plus, I can walk or run, and I could even train Zooey to walk on it when it does get too hot for her sweet little paws.
But at the same time, she did reassure me - maybe she saw panic in my eyes? - that yes, our goal is to get me running again and at the same level to which I'd been used to. She knows I want to run a full marathon someday and doesn't want me to hang that idea up.
I'm not saying that we are going to go out and buy a treadmill right now, though. It's something we need to consider and then budget for. And if the numbers are similar, I may prefer to join a gym so that I have the opportunity to add on yoga and pilates in a setting that I'd actually do it (it's not easy to do your yoga when your exercise room is also the play room). Zooey wouldn't get the benefit of it that way, but we'll see what happens.
For now, I'm happy that the change in the PT routine means that I am truly gaining strength and I'm one week closer to hitting the canal again. It won't be soon, but it'll be sooner.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

But Yet I Run Before My Horse to Market?

(Or, On Not Running and Stuff)

Now is the winter of our smug content
Turned abhorrent summer by this desert sun;
And all the rain that lour's on the Northwest
Is in the deep cockles of our hearts dreamt of.
Now are our brows crowned with execrable sweat;
Our leather seats covered with beach towels;
Our fiery sidewalks used to fry up breakfasts,
Scorching steering wheels driven with oven mitts.
Sweat-tainted clothes ousted one-starched threads;
And now, instead of heading out to play
To fill the air with joyful intonations,
We hunker lamely in a curtained hallway
Under the tempering blades of ceiling fans.
But I, that am not shaped for staying put,
Nor made to linger under roofs, looking out;
I, that am aptly shod, and want nothing more
To run along a carp-laden canal;
I, that am curtailed of this activity,
Cheated of pastime by loathsome injury,
Wounded afflicts, sent before my time
Into the PT's world, rife with hip pain,
And that so lame and achy each waking hour
My dog barks at me as I halt her run;
Why, I, in this weak, fragile state of health,
Have no delight to pass away the time
Without to spy my shadow in the sun
And abandon my damn'd discomfiture:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a runner,
To entertain these long, feverous days,
I am determined to prove a swimmer
And hate the parching hours of these days.
Plots have I laid, exertions ambitious,
By desp'rate suspicions, brainstorms, and dreams,
To set my bothersome him and myself
In joyful reunion with each other:
And if my PT be as good and deft
As I am bruised, marred, and decrepit,
This plan should my hip surely be healed up,
Hoping a green light she gives, and run
On the canal this sportswoman shall go.
Heal hip, down to my bones: pool,
Here I come.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Physical Therapy - Week 7

This week, Stephanie had me start doing my bridge exercises using an exercise ball, and she added static lunges.
This takes my routine to almost two hours.
Especially when you include the part where I throw myself on the floor and dramatically cry, "It's soooooo hard!"
Tuesday I woke up with an extremely tight left quad. It was sore enough that it was uncomfortable to walk, so I modified my home PT, omitting any weights and doing fewer reps per set and skipping both the lunges and the squats, as they were both painful, not just uncomfortable, to attempt.. When it wasn't feeling much better on Wednesday, I was able to re-add the weights, but I still didn't do the squats or lunges.
When the pain didn't abate in the evening, I took a heating pad to it. Using a heating pad when it's over 100° outside isn't the most fun activity I can think of, but it helped me relax a little bit so I could go to sleep. My hip was also still pretty sore, so even though I tend to ice it after I'm finished with my exercises, the heating pad felt good on that as well.
Of course I brought all this up to Stephanie on Thursday, and she said that while she didn't like that my quad was painful for that long, she wasn't surprised that I was sore, since we hadn't worked too much with the quad, so adding the lunges should have had an effect. But since I was still pretty tight - she did some myofascial work during my Astym® treatment to try to loosen me up - she reduced my lunges to one set of ten on each side, and I'll work my way up.
It took me until this week to have the brilliant idea to actually write down what's going on each day in my running journal. I mean, hey, I'm not logging any miles, so it's not like there's no room. My hope is that if I can take notes each day, I can actually see myself progress - and feel like I'm making progress.
I know I'm making progress; I can tell that I'm stronger than I was when I started PT in May. But I still don't feel stronger, since I'm still constantly sore and uncomfortable, which means I still can't run or cycle, which in turn means I'm still frustrated and this close to going stir crazy.
My next goal, then, is to be able to do two sets of the lunges by my next update. I have a week. Let's get to it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

#Reverb14 · June Prompt · Staycationing

#reverb14 is an opportunity for participants to reflect throughout 2014. Each month, the Reverb team will post a new prompt. Join and write, or simply join and read.

June Prompt: It's summer time, and the livin' is easy. Tell us about where you are RIGHT NOW. Tell us about your summer time at home. Does "home" mean heading out of town for the season? Does it mean an extended staycation? What does summer at home mean to you?

Even though I work from home, it's nice to have a few weeks (4, to be exact) during which I don't have to open my work computer. I'd be a big fat liar if I said that I wasn't completely burned out at the end of this school year and needed a break like nobody's business. After over a decade in the education world, I'm starting to wonder what's next more and more.

My vacation started this week. So far, I've made ice cream, marshmallows, chocolate-sweet potato muffins (in which I forgot an ingredient, but they turned out pretty good anyway), chocolate-sweet potato-banana bread, strawberry-rhubarb-apple empanadas (aka hand pies), and I'm planning to try a slow cooker cinnamon roll recipe a friend shared with me this weekend. I'm working on a baby blanket that will hopefully be done by said baby's first birthday (oops). I am attempting to clear off the dining room table so we can actually eat a family meal at it, but since Husband was gone for a class all last week, total neatness has been…..not A Number One Priority.

Guess which one was the sacrificial "taste test" empanada?
I've also been working hard on my PT and trying to get back in the routine of walking Zooey, who was left to her own devices last week when Husband was gone; HRH doesn't get up early enough to go in the morning, and I won't leave a 5YO home alone. Once she's at school, it's too hot for Zooey's paws. In order to give her the opportunity to get that extra energy out in a positive, non-destructive way, I sent her to doggie daycare for a day last week, and she was OMGSOHAPPY about that.

A rare snap of a peaceful coonhound, post-walk
But this morning, I just wanted to sit and do nothing. I'm not going to have many opportunities to do Nothing while I'm on break; I still have my summer session class, which is….not my favorite, but it will fill the bill. I had hoped to do as much work during my own break as possible, but my professor only posts one week's worth of readings/assignments at a time, so that doesn't seem likely (he said he likes to make sure we are all engaged in a similar direction at the same time or….something like that).

And if my own class weren't enough to keep me busy, I've scheduled Lots of Things for HRH to keep her busy before she begins kindergarten. Right now, she's taking swim lessons every day for two weeks (this is on top of her regular weekly lessons, so at the end of this week, she'll have had 12 lessons over the two week period). She's also taking two summer classes at her dance school - the next level of ballet to make sure she's ready for it and musical theatre, which combines all of her favorite things: singing, dancing, and being overly dramatic. On Thursday, she'll go from school to swim to ballet. I've promised her we can go out to dinner and that she can have whatever she wants, since she'll be exhausted. I'm hoping that in a few weeks she can do ballet camp, which will mean ballet two hours every day for the week.

Yes, that's a lot, but since we can't just go outside to play during the summer months, both HRH and I need activities that can keep her busy so that we don't revert to "just watch a movie while I wash the dishes." We all need our down time, but I don't need to train her to be a couch potato, either. We have been discussing how much she loves to swim, and she said to me, "It's too bad that some people don't like to exercise."

I won't let her become someone who doesn't like to exercise.

There are some mornings that have been cool enough to warrant an early trip to the park down the street, which we tend to finish off with a splash in the kiddie pool I bought for Zooey. The city recently put up a ramada over the playground equipment, so it's actually pleasant in the shade. We have one rule for how long we stay: when the water is nearly gone, we head home. HRH is extremely dedicated to following this rule and pays careful attention to her water consumption, although the promise of banana bread, muffins, or other tasty treats as a return snack probably doesn't hurt, either.

But our summer will also include a trip up to Michigan to see family and get out of the heat. I'm excited that we can actually go outside and play in the park when we want, and we've got plenty of activities to keep her (and us) busy, although we're planning for a few days of (almost) nothing but R&R on Lake Michigan. My mother-in-law got the extra bike tuned up, so I'm hoping that Stephanie gives me permission to go for a ride or two while we're up there, but I'll settle for going for hikes or walks if I have to. I finally feel like I am getting stronger (more on that in my weekly PT update), and I don't want to undo almost two months of hard work.

I guess the short version of this post could have been, "what's a vacation?"

Friday, June 13, 2014

Physical Therapy - Week 6

I'm six weeks in. At this point, I need to head back to the ortho to see what he thinks of my progress, so I'll be scheduling that appointment before the end of the day.
I think in a previous post I mentioned that Stephanie wants me to be at 80%. Basically, that means I can still be sore after doing my exercises, but I should go through my day fairly pain-free.
Right now, she's giving me a 65%. Mayyyyyyybe 70%, but really, I'm achy a LOT of the time.
Like all this week.
For now, she's not adding any new exercises again until my soreness abates somewhat. In the last few weeks we've added quite a few, so she's letting me "get used" to the quantity of exercise I'm charged doing on a daily basis.
I'm still amazed at the humbling effect of PT. Some of the "exercises" seem little more than minor movements, and they can be OMGSOHARD. One of my newer exercises, the T-bend (at least that's what I think it's called), isn't much more than me leaning forward while standing on only one foot, but doing it properly required effort and concentration. Thankfully, Casey, one of the trainers, gave me this advice: "think of it like you have two lasers pointing out from your hips; you want to point those lasers toward the ground."
Aside from the fact that I spent the rest of that exercise going "PEW! PEW!" and quite possibly concerning other patients, it was great advice. It gave me a visual to apply when I'm at home, and it even made the exercise a wee bit more fun.
I just wish there was a way to make V-sits more fun.
At this rate, I'm hoping to hit 75% by the end of June, but I really need to be more dedicated to doing my exercises every day, regardless of the soreness. I'm officially on vacation as of 5PM tonight, so I won't have work as an excuse for the next several weeks.
In that time, I'm going to look at how I can convert my desk to a standing one, as sitting all day is not helping any of my body, especially my hip. I don't plan to buy a standing desk (unless we win Powerball, but then I can quit and won't need a desk anyway), but I have some ideas on how I can Macgyver what I currently have in order to be able to stand and sit throughout the day.

Do you have a standing desk? What are your tips for not sitting so much through the day?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Physical Therapy - Week 5

This week began with HRH waking us up at 5AM after having thrown up in her bed. After an hour of holding her hair back while she prayed to the porcelain gods, I knew I wasn't getting to PT. I wasn't able to reschedule, either, so I was only able to go once.
The good news is that the bruising from the Astym® was nearly gone by Thursday.
The bad news is that it's back after a fresh battering.
Today, I am sore and tired. I also had my monthly chiropractor adjustment, so while I am walking a little taller again, I'm just spent. It takes me over an hour to complete all my exercises at home (almost 2 if HRH is up and is inclined to "need" something in between my sets), and since I didn't get a great deal of sleep all week (hello, summer class), I'm considering skipping some of the routine in favor of getting to bed before 11PM.
Next week is the six-week mark, which is the extent to which my ortho prescribed treatment, so I have to call his office and go in to see him, although I have scheduled out PT appointments for the rest of June.
I know that six weeks is a completely arbitrary time period, but I'm hoping for good news, either from Stephanie or my ortho. I'm not looking to be at 100%, as I know that's not realistic, but some sort of progress will be encouraging. I've gotten to another point at which I Last week, I carpooled with a co-worker to a meeting, and we passed SO many runners and cyclists on the way there and back. I was shocked at my envy toward all of them, even though in the afternoon, they were out there in the already brutal Arizona sun. For the last week, then, I've been having a bit of a pity party, so some good news will surely refocus me on the positives rather than the can'ts.